A History of Plumbing:
In 1989 on a trip through Italy, I toured the ancient Roman ruins of Pompeii, located near Naples, Italy. This ancient hillside resort was destroyed in 79AD by the still active volcano, Vesuvius and has in modern times become a popular tourist adventure, not recommended for the faint of heart. Somewhere in my college studies, I recalled that modern day plumbing had been developed from the remote past and that our outhouses were not the beginning of our modern day plumbing. I was, however, completely unprepared and amazed by the sophisticated plumbing systems still intact in many areas throughout the ruins.
Since 1758, when excavation began in Pompeii, palaces of the Caesars and private homes of the nouveau riche merchants and court hangers-on have emerged along with theaters, dance halls, and circuses. In addition, grand-style temples and amphitheaters were uncovered, along with elaborate public baths for hundreds of people, and a water supply system for both private and public needs.
Water closets were in vogue in Pompeii, and archaeologists have found ancient closets in the back of one palace, including a cistern to flush water to the different seats. Near the palace kitchen, they also found an arched recess approximately three feet deep. Although the actual wood had long disappeared, archaeologists say they could still see outlines of hinges for the privy seats.
The kitchen’s brick oven sat four feet from the privy. To the efficient Romans who had no inkling of germs, the proximity allowed the easy disposal of both scraps and excreta. The women used the privy alongside the kitchen; the men went around to the back and used their own.
Plumbing Galore: The famous Roman aqueducts supplied water to the town. The pipe used in siphons set in sections of 10 feet. The sections fit into a one-foot square block of stone servicing as an elbow, with connecting holes cut into the adjoining walls.
Water flowed continuously into a private home through a nozzle. The homeowner paid water rates according to the nozzle size. At the reservoir where the service pipe was attached, engineers installed a kind of ball float, resembling the modern type, to assure a reasonable steady flow of water. Each length of service pipe carried the subscriber’s name to prevent any unpaying freeloaders from tapping into his neighbor’s pipe.
The plumbers of Pompeii had a flourishing trade that included fashioning gutters of lead for the private homes. A Pompeian house featured an atrium and open-roof design. Underneath, a tank collected the rainwater which ran down from the roof tiles.
The ROMAN Bath: A Roman bath in today’s connotation is a luxury affair — an appropriate term. Between the public baths and homes of the patricians, the plumbers of Pompeii had no trouble staying busy. There was a steady demand for lead pipes, wiped joints, bronze valves, and opulent fixtures of marble, gold and silver.
“The History of Plumbing- Pompeii & Herculaneum”
It’s a bit mind boggling to see that plumbing has not progressed as much over the centuries when compared with modern technologies